Friday, January 6, 2012

In Tallahassee, 2012 distance running starts at Bowlegs

Billy BowlegsTallahassee's 2012 year of road racing starts on Saturday morning, Jan. 7, with the 28th annual Bowlegs 5K Run For Scholarship. The race is named for the Seminole warrior, Billy Bowlegs. Bowlegs fought the United States during the Second and Third Seminole War. Unable to defeat Bowlegs and his Seminoles militarily, the United States offered him cash to leave Florida. Bowlegs and his warriors took the offer and the Seminole Wars were over. Osceola, who died a prisoner of the United States army during the Second Seminole War, might have wished for as good a deal.


Fort Walton Beach also has a Bowlegs 5K, the Bowlegs Midnight Run. It's run at 10:00 pm instead of midnight and is named for British adventurer William Bowles, who was never called Billy Bowlegs during his lifetime (at least to his face).


Stephen CoxThe historical accuracy of Tallahassee’s race is due to Dr. Leitch Wright, a Florida State University history professor, who established Tallahassee's Bowlegs 5K in 1985. After Dr. Wright's tragic and untimely death, FSU College of Business professors Bill Hillison and Larry Giunipero took over direction of the race. Perhaps their own background gives them an appreciation for the financial accumen with which Billy Bowlegs and his adversaries settled the Seminole Wars.


The Bowlegs 5K was originally staged on FSU's main campus. In the 1990s the race was moved to its present course in Innovation Park, starting and finishing near the FAMU/FSU College of Engineering. Although never a large race, some fast runners have appeared in the Bowlegs 5K over the years. Looking through the past winners of the race, you can spot high school cross country state champions Matt Mizereck (the 2007 Bowlegs winner) and Carly Thomas (2008). Florida State track alumna Darien Andreu won the first Bowlegs women's title in 1985, and FSU track alumnus Thomas Kunish won it all in 2002. Perhaps the most impressive performance in the Bowlegs 5K over the years is the 16:54 course record, run by Irish Olympian Breeda Dennehy-Willis in 1999. That's not the fastest road 5K ever run by a woman in Tallahassee (Dennehy-Willis herself ran 16:31 at the Palace Saloon 5K in 2005) but it probably makes the top ten list.

Sheryl Rosen
Fast or slow, the runners will be lining up on Pottsdamer Street next Saturday. Their numbers may depend on the weather. Less than a hundred runners showed up for a frigid and dreary Bowlegs in 2010, while a sunny and mild morning brought more than 200 out to the race in 2011. Whatever the outcome or the attendance, another year of Tallahassee road racing will be under way.


[ Originally published in the 31 December 2011 issue of the Tallahassee Democrat. ]


Billy Bowlegs 5K, 1985-2011
Date
Men
Women
Field
16 FEB 1985
16:44, Scott Hinkle
18:48, Darien Andreu
153
15 FEB 1986
16:12, Rick Miller
20:00, Janice Hochstein
150
7 FEB 1987
15:54, Randy Jordan
20:00, Sarah Patterson
186
13 FEB 1988
16:05, Rick Miller
20:02, Janice Hochstein
220
4 FEB 1989
15:44, Rick Miller
20:02, Barbara Balzer
165
10 FEB 1990
17:28, Felton Wright
19:30, Paula Johnson
112
16 FEB 1991
16:15, Bill Crooks
20:37, Tina Davies
67
15 FEB 1992
15:51, Mike Macinko
18:37, Paula Johnson
81
20 FEB 1993
15:33, Gary Droze
19:33, Carrie Hunnicutt
143
19 FEB 1994
16:02, Phillip Healy
22:18, Chateau Mangaroo
83
18 FEB 1995
15:41, Reid Montini
18:09, Jane Johnson
158
17 FEB 1996
16:12, Tim Simpkins
19:33, Janice Hochstein
77
15 FEB 1997
15:45, Gary Droze
18:20, Jane Johnson
163
14 FEB 1998
16:23, Damian Wilson
17:47, Sarah Docter-Williams
104
13 FEB 1999
15:57, Robert Pautenius
16:54, Breeda Dennehy-Willis
77
12 FEB 2000
15:49, Aaron Scheer
20:42, Laurel Slyck
83
10 FEB 2001
16:48, Gary Droze
18:18, Sarah Docter-Williams

9 FEB 2002
16:20, Thomas Kunish
20:20, Allison Eagen
77
8 FEB 2003
16:56, Paul Orfield
21:15, Fran McLean
76
21 FEB 2004
17:06 Adam David Churchill
18:21, Breeda Dennehy-Willis
82
15 JAN 2005
17:42, Art Remillard
18:10, Sarah Docter-Williams
72
14 JAN 2006
16:43, Shawn Patterson
19:22, Stephanie Liles
152
20 JAN 2007
17:37, Matt Mizereck
19:02, Sheryl Rosen
109
19 JAN 2008
16:32, Tripp Southerland
21:39, Carly Thomas
121
10 JAN 2009
17:59, Tim Unger
20:09, Micah Adriani
117
9 JAN 2010
17:21, Stephen Cox
21:01, Lauren Switzer
84
8 JAN 2011
16:38, Vince Molosky
19:26, Sheryl Rosen
204


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